“We have a large youth population who have incredible opportunities ahead of them in education, the work force and beyond,” says Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee on the launch of National Addictions Awareness Week. This year’s theme is “Youth drug use prevention”.
“As leaders, it is imperative that we provide them with all the support and tools we can to ensure they make healthy choices and set themselves up for the greatest success.”
The current addiction week format is promoted by the Canadian Center on Substance Abuse, but the concept actually originated at Nechi Institute in Alberta. Internationally recognized as an Indigenous training, research, and health promotion centre, Nechi Institute addresses issues such as drugs, alcohol and gambling addictions, family violence, and prescription drug abuse.
Northern Superior Regional Grand Chief Peter Collins says “National Addiction Awareness Week is a positive campaign for helping and guiding our youth in a positive direction as well as making youth aware of the harm drugs can have on their lives.”
Substance abuse is by no means a First Nations-specific issue, as virtually every community across Canada is faced with increasing challenges in the health and social fields due to dramatic increases of incidents in recent years. One initiative that First Nations have relied on to lead with the professional assistance for those with addictions issues is the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program (NNADAP).
Lake Huron Regional Chief Isadore Day says that First Nations acknowledge the many years of service from a long line of NNADAP workers who helped carry the painful work of dealing with addictions in our First Nations since the 1970s.
“We owe it to them to continue advancing our efforts to help our youth in this generation deal with new realities in the changing face of addiction,” says Regional Chief Day. “We must ask ourselves – what can I do to help those who suffer from this affliction? We will only be amazed at the potential of our citizens and their contributions when we can effectively deal with addiction head-on in our community.”
Grand Council Chief Madahbee praised the efforts of community health workers.
“We applaud the work of our community-based programs, health professionals and leaders for all of their efforts to create drug-free and prosperous communities for our citizens,” says Madahbee. “During this National Addictions Awareness Week, we encourage everyone to take some time to educate themselves.”